JUNK JARGON: Council entertains complaints on neglected property

COLUMBIA CITY — Abandoned vehicles, overgrown grass and junk piles at the property of Thomas Ebetino, motivated Bob Sutton to petition the county for an intervention.Sutton and Ebetino both own property on CR 400 South. Sutton was present at the County Commissioners meeting Tuesday to voice his concern with the neglected property.“The first complaint was filed in 2006,” Sutton said. “It was fine for awhile, but then its back to the same thing again. It’s an ongoing problem, but now its worse.”Several other neighbors along the county road are upset with the condition of the property and have signed a formal complaint against the owner.Scott Wagner, Whitley County Health Department’s environmental health specialist, confirmed that no one was living in the house and that utilities had been shut off to the residence.“We have sent out the 30- day notice for the property to be cleaned up,” Wagner said. “That hasn’t happened. I’ve started the process for an injunction, which will allow a lien to be placed on the property.”Business records state Ebetino is a sole proprietor of ASAP Preservations, LLC., a company that cleans out repossessed houses and removes excess materials from job sites for contractors.“All that he collects makes its way to this property,” Sutton said. “There are stacks of siding, 15 different vehicles, a semi trailer and different machines piled all over the yard. The house should be condemned.”Sutton said the home’s structure is exposed and broken windows have left the residence open to the elements. Junk and trash ordinances have recently become a heated topic in council meetings across the county. Wagner said it seems to be an increasing problem, but attributes the demand to a greater awareness within the communities.“People know about the ordinances now,” he said. “They aren’t afraid to make a complaint. The process does fall on the folks that witness the violation. We don’t go out checking properties, but if a resident files a complaint, we do follow up.”Sutton asked the council if there was a way to keep this problem from reoccurring.“I would like to see this remain complaint driven,” Commissioner Don Amber said. “I don’t want to change the ordinance and have to have someone go out and recheck it.”Commissioners asked for the issue to be added the agenda for Sept. 16.